How Our State's Members Of Congress Voted Last Week

Here’s how members of Congress voted on major issues in the week ending April 20. (A little background about why I’m re-posting this can be found here.)


BUSINESS TAX CUTS: Voting 235 for and 173 against, the House on April 19 sent the Senate a bill (HR 9) providing a 20 percent income-tax cut to virtually all U.S. partnerships and corporations with fewer than 500 workers as a spur for economic growth. The break would be available to firms having from one to 499 employees, many of which meet the federal definition of “small business.” Because the deduction would be capped at 50 percent of wages paid, companies would have an incentive to hire new workers or give pay raises to existing ones. But the bill does not require firms to use the benefit to expand payrolls, and they could receive it even if they were laying off workers or sending jobs abroad. Slated to last for the remainder of 2012, the tax cut is officially projected to add $46 billion to the national debt.

Spencer Bachus, R-Ala., said: “Congress cannot create jobs. We’re not going to create jobs with this bill. We’re going to allow small businesses to create jobs. You’ll either choose government or you’ll choose the people. … I’m putting my trust in the people.”

Steve Israel, D-N.Y., said Republicans “are saying that we have to dismantle Medicare because … we can’t afford it on the one hand, and on the other hand they are lavishing millionaires with a $46 billion tax cut. If you’re one of 125,000 millionaires in America, you get $58,000 from this bill.”

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

Voting yes: Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-3, Doc Hastings, R-4, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-5, Dave Reichert, R-8

Voting no: Rick Larsen, D-2, Norman Dicks, D-6, Jim McDermott, D-7, Adam Smith, D-9

Not voting: None

GOLF CLUBS, LOBBYISTS, PORNOGRAPHERS: The House on April 19 refused, 179 for and 229 against, to deny tax cuts under HR 9 (above) to companies engaged in pornography, lobbying, drug trafficking or illegal prostitution. The Democratic motion also denied eligibility to companies that send U.S. jobs overseas, golf courses that discriminate in membership on the basis of gender or race and firms that violate U.S. trade sanctions against Iran. Finally, the motion required members of Congress who would benefit from the bill’s tax cut as a result of their business connections to disclose that fact to constituents.
Sponsor Ted Deutch, D-Fla., said: “Join me and prevent Americans’ hard-earned tax dollars from subsidizing Iranian nukes, cutting costs for criminals and padding the pockets of pornographers. And let’s make sure that this bill does not reward companies that ship jobs overseas.”

Dave Camp, R-Mich., called the motion “a political ploy” and said “we should not be picking winners and losers. The fact is, small businesses are hurting because of the failed policies of the Obama administration.”

A yes vote backed the motion.

Voting yes: Larsen, Dicks, McDermott, Smith

Voting no: Herrera Beutler, Hastings, McMorris Rodgers, Reichert

Not voting: None

100 PERCENT DEPRECIATION: Voting 175 for and 236 against, the House on April 19 defeated a Democratic substitute to HR 9 (above) that sought to replace the Republicans’ 20 percent tax cuts for small businesses with a one-year extension of “100 percent bonus depreciation” for small businesses. The 100 percent write-off would enable manufacturers and other firms to spur economic growth by depreciating the full value of plant and equipment purchases in a single year. Under normal IRS rules, depreciation in a single year is capped at 50 percent.

Sponsor Sander Levin, D-Mich., said that under his amendment, “a business that builds a new factory only gets the (bonus depreciation) if the factory is built in this country. In contrast (under the GOP bill) businesses that cut jobs in the U.S. and expand overseas could get” the tax cut.

Aaron Schock, R-Ill., said the Republican bill is “targeted at America’s small businesses and will give them the capital they need to stay in business, to hire those additional workers, to invest in additional capital and maybe even to prevent layoffs.”

A yes vote backed the amendment.

Voting yes: Larsen, Dicks, McDermott, Smith

Voting no: Herrera Beutler, Hastings, McMorris Rodgers, Reichert

Not voting: None


“BUFFETT RULE” ON TAXES: Voting 51 for and 45 against, the Senate on April 16 failed to reach 60 votes needed to end GOP blockage of a bill (S 2230) to add the “Buffett Rule” to the U.S. Tax Code. The rule is named after investor Warren Buffett, who says it is wrong for wealthy persons such as himself to pay taxes at a lower rate than their secretaries pay. The bill would impose a minimum tax of 30 percent on households with at least $1 million in income from salaries and/or investments. This would offset the fact that wealthy persons tend to take more advantage of tax loopholes than do middle-class taxpayers, have a much lower share of income subjected to Social Security withholding and receive much of their income from long-term capital gains, which are taxed at preferential rates.

Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., said: “There are plenty of countries where the internal political and economic systems amount to a racket — a racket that is rigged for the benefit of the rich and powerful and against farmers and workers and small businesses and ordinary families. Some of those countries are so bad we call them ‘kleptocracies.’ But that has never been America.”

Rob Portman, R-Ohio, said that by effectively ending preferential rates for long-term capital gains, the bill would reduce Treasury revenues. “Common sense, economics and experience teach that a higher capital-gains rate causes some investors to hold assets rather than sell them, just as a lower … rate will encourage more people to sell an asset,” he said.

A yes vote was to advance the bill.

Voting yes: Maria Cantwell, D, Patty Murray, D

Voting no: None

Not voting: None

POSTAL SERVICE OVERHAUL: Voting 74 for and 22 against, the Senate on April 17 started debate on a bill (S 1789) aimed at putting the money-losing U.S. Postal Service on a profitable basis by Sept. 30, 2015, mainly through a restructuring that would sharply cut payroll, retirement and health care costs. As now written, the bill would authorize steps such as ending Saturday deliveries, closing or consolidating many of the country’s 32,000 post offices, starting new delivery services and using buyouts to reduce the postal workforce by as much as 20 percent below its current 547,000 level. But the legislation is expected to undergo significant change as the Senate adopts amendments. The House has not yet taken up the issue.

Joseph Lieberman, I-Ct., said the bill “will dramatically reduce the number of employees and the number of facilities the post office maintains, but it will do so in a way … not Draconian either to the Postal Service or the impact it would have on the millions of people who depend on the post office and will continue to every day.”

No senator spoke against the bill.

A yes vote was to begin debating the bill.

Voting yes: Cantwell, Murray

Voting no: None

Not voting: None

— Thomas Voting Reports Inc.

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